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April 27th, 2010
04:17 PM ET

Defibrillator dangers

By Trisha Henry
CNN Medical Producer

The Food and Drug Administration is recalling more defibrillators.

The FDA is recalling Nihon Kohden and GE Responder models of automatic and semiautomatic defibrillators due to faulty components. In November the FDA recalled Powerheart, and CardioVive external defibrillators because the models were found to have defective parts and may not work properly.

The FDA says that about 280,000 defibrillators are used worldwide and that the recalled models may not work during attempts to rescue people in sudden cardiac arrest. SCA is responsible for more than 300,000 deaths each year. SCA causes the heart to stop functioning. In more than 90 percent of cases death occurs. But studies have shown 90 percent of victims can be saved when CPR and a defibrillator are used within the first minute.

The recalled defibrillators, made by Cardiac Science Corporation, may fail to properly deliver a shock and have been found to have faulty parts that may cause them to fail at delivering that lifesaving shock. Other issues with the devices include failures in accurately reading and analyzing the heart rhythm as well as failure to recognize the pad placement during use.

Recalled defibrillators should be repaired or replaced. The FDA says the recalled defibrillators should be used unless another defibrillator is available. It says the potential benefits of using the available external defibrillators outweigh the risk of not using any of the affected external defibrillators or the risk of device failure.

For more information and an updated list of the affected models click here.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


April 27th, 2010
01:46 PM ET

Heart disease risk heightened in nearly half of Americans

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

Heart disease is America's No. 1 killer, and nearly half of Americans have one or more conditions - hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes - that puts them at risk, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

One out of eight adults, or 13 percent, have two of these conditions, and 3 percent have all three, the CDC said in its analysis of people over 20 years old from 1999 to 2006. Forty-five percent have at least one of the three.

African American individuals have a greater likelihood of having at least one of these three conditions than non-Hispanic white people and Mexican Americans, the study found. White Americans more commonly have high cholesterol than African Americans and Mexican Americans. As for diabetes, African Americans and Mexican Americans have a higher prevalence than white individuals.

The portion of adults with undiagnosed conditions is significant - more than 15 percent of adults have one or more of the conditions, but had not received a diagnosis. About 8 percent have undiagnosed hypertension, 8 percent have undiagnosed hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and 3 percent have undiagnosed diabetes, the report said. These proportions were similar across ethnic groups.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Read more about it from the Mayo Clinic Health Library.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


April 27th, 2010
12:09 PM ET

Surgical equipment price a shocker

By Sabriya Rice, CNN Medical News producer
and Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent

When Dr. Linda Galloway learned she needed surgery to save her vision, she scheduled the procedure immediately with her ophthalmologist.

What an eye-opener it was when the hospital bill arrived. She noticed several high-priced items, including a charge of $863.20 for disposable forceps.

"Surgical instruments can be expensive but I think $863.20 is really outside of the realm of realistic prices," she complains.

Then Galloway, an obstetrician in Orlando, Florida went online and found similar forceps for $1,155 for a box of six, or $192 each.

"I was outraged. I tried to get an explanation as to why I was charged that amount of money," she said. When she called the billing department, the answer upset her even more.

"They said when you signed consent for the procedure, you allowed us to charge anything we wanted to and therefore, this is what it is," she recalls.

Galloway says she was especially upset because with her insurance plan, she has to pay 20 percent of her medical bill and if the hospital is going address her as a consumer, then she wants them to level the playing field.

"I need to be in power to do things.  If you're going to charge me this amount of money, then I need to know exactly what instruments you're going to use and what medications you're going to use. Because I can then buy them outside and bring them to the hospital."

Florida Hospital, the place where Linda had her surgery says their charges are fair and compatible with other hospitals.

"Like all other hospitals across the country, [Florida Hospital] bases charges on a charge master that serves as a guide,” a spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail.  She says that an independent contractor compares Florida Hospital’s charges with those of other hospitals and that the results show “we are in the mid-range in that pricing structure."

But is markup of more than four times the market rate really reasonable?

According to the American Hospital Association, the prices increases are necessary.

“A hospital is a very expensive enterprise to keep open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and ready for any medical need or emergency. And that does lay out a basic level of cost that has to be captured through the charge structures," says Rich Umbdenstock, president of the AHA.

Umbdenstock says that hospitals have to compensate for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid that traditionally underpay, and that each hospital has to set prices in a way that helps their bottom line.

"The hospital has to be able to bring in more money than it spends or else it won't be there for the next patient.”

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


April 27th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

How does race affect breast cancer risk?

By Trisha Henry
CNN Medical News Producer

It's been long known that Hispanic women are less likely to get breast cancer than white women but now a new study examines why.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs studied women with breast cancer. Among the white women, between 62 percent and 75 percent had known risk factors for breast cancer – behaviors or traits that have been found to increase one’s chances of getting the disease, for example, use of hormone replacement therapy.

Among Hispanic women, between 7 percent and 36 percent had known risk factors. "The whole intent was to shed light on why there are these differences," said the study's author, Lisa Hines, a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs assistant professor.

Traits found in Hispanic women in the study that did increase their breast cancer risk included having their first period younger, not breastfeeding their children and having a low level of physical activity. But other factors that usually increase the risk – alcohol consumption and higher body mass – didn't appear to have as much effect.  In general, Hispanic women were found to have more traits that would keep them in the clear than those that put them at risk. Even in premenopausal women, being taller and having a family history of breast cancer increased the risk of getting breast cancer in non-Hispanic white women but was found not to among Hispanic women.

Hines found that when it came to hormone replacement therapy, "post-menopausal non-Hispanic white women who had used hormone replacement therapy recently had an increased risk of getting diagnosed with breast cancer," but in Hispanic women, "there was no relationship with recent hormone replacement use" and breast cancer. The study also suggests the difference in estrogen exposure could be because of genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors that make someone more likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer. While previous studies have found that Hispanic women have a lower rate of breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women, they experience a higher risk of mortality after diagnosis. The question remains, what makes these two groups so different? Hines says it will take more research to determine what is causing fewer Hispanic women to develop breast cancer and "if there is something biologically that is making Hispanic women less susceptible, maybe someone can develop a strategy that can kind of mimic that."

The study found overall, non-Hispanic white women had a higher incidence of breast cancer compared with Hispanic women for every age group examined. This is one of the largest studies that have both non-Hispanic white women and Hispanic women in it and it's the only one to review both groups simultaneously.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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